Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Private treatment centre: Teulon facility opens for addicts, won't be cheap

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YOU'VE seen them on Intervention. Read about them in celebrity news weeklies.

Now, Manitobans struggling with addiction can get in to a close-to-home private treatment centre -- if their pocketbook can cover it.

On Monday, owners opened the doors on Whispering Pines Retreat, the first private residential addiction facility in Teulon,

It took almost four years of planning and $300,000 in renovations to turn the two-building property into a refuge for people facing their addictions. Now, Whispering Pines' 10 staff, including counsellors and chefs, are ready to fill 26 beds.

Interviews for the facility's first clients began this week. "Other programs, like the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, they've had their role and done a wonderful job," says Colleen Robinson, the centre's co-founder and medical administrator.

"We're here to offer another type of facility."

A type of facility, for instance, where residents can beat their addictions while enjoying catered meals, yoga practices and meditation time. Where they can relax on leather couches and, after they leave, they can enjoy regular "relapse prevention" via telephone and email follow-ups with counsellors.

Those perks don't come cheap -- a night at Whispering Pines is $550, and Robinson says a stay of at least 28 days is recommended -- but Robinson, who worked in drug and alcohol programs for 15 years, says demand is out there.

"There is a high need," Robinson says. "At least one in five people in North America know someone who is looking for a place (like this)."

But though the service comes at a cost, it could serve to help the unknown numbers of people struggling with addiction in Manitoba find treatment closer to home, and faster.

Currently, people hoping for residential treatment through the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, which runs 96 beds across the province, can face wait-lists of anywhere from one week to four months, with women often waiting longer.

On the other hand, all of AFM's services are free. And while AFM welcomes people from "all walks of life," AFM's chief executive officer John Borody says, Whispering Pines may fill in a gap for professionals and other high-income earners who may be less likely to seek out public programs.

"I would say many of our clients wouldn't be in a position to pay a per-diem cost," says Borody. "If some people (in that position) are around, they're probably going out of province on their own... there may be a market out there."

That's traditionally been the case, says Robinson, who knows people who have travelled to facilities like Toronto's Bellwood to fight their addiction.

"I think everybody is used to seeing something happen in Ontario or B.C. or Alberta, and nobody's really thought about what the prairie provinces could offer," Robinson says. "It's time to make a difference here."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 3, 2010 A4

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